How to Estimate Basic Expenses for Android or iOS App Development

How do you find a suitable compromise for a mobile app's necessary expenses? What are those expenses? What features you can forego in the first iteration without affecting functionality? Let's talk about that. Mobile app development has many different variables and its price can range from $5,000 to $500,000. It's hard to estimate app development cost for Android or iOS. We are here to help you with a mobile app estimation of essential expenses for your mobile app development.

The APP Solutions Mobile Development Process 

So, how to estimate app development cost?

Let's go through the step-by-step development process to make clear what amount of money is needed.

We develop applications according to Agile methodology. A system development life cycle is composed of defined work phases. We use them to plan, design, build, test, and deliver the final product to the client.

Steps of Mobile Development

Step 1. Planning & Business Analysis

The best projects start with detailed preparation.

Our fundamental approach ensures the product is going to meet the client's needs. Thorough planning helps to understand where you are now and how to get to the desired point.

Meticulous market research helps to understand if there is any demand for your idea.

We also research competitors and carry-out SWOT-analysis in identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Step 2. Technical Specifications

Detailed functional requirements help us to define the idea for your software solution. Also, all project features are determined in this document.

During this stage, you need to decide what kind of operating systems and devices you want in order to build an app.

Step 3. Prototyping & Design

A prototype is a rudimentary working model of a product. Such a model helps you to test the viability of the idea or startup and save a decent amount of time and budget.

This step includes the following processes:

  • Creating a sketch (A draft version of an app that shows the number of screens and logic through which they interact with each other.)
  • Creating wireframes (The visualization of the draft app structure.)
  • Creating a clickable prototype (helps to find issues and solve them before coding. Shows where the interaction logic breaks and gives an understanding of how to improve it.)
  • Designing app skins

During this stage, we collect all the wireframes and put them together to improve the design.

Step 4. Development

The app development process itself is divided into two parts: front-end and back-end. On average, it takes about ten weeks to build the back-end part of a native app (Android or iOS).

Front-end development of the app with basic functionality may take about eight weeks. However, it's not always necessary to build the back-end part of the app if you use cloud technologies for storage.

Step 5. Testing/Quality Assurance

It is essential to test every part of the product manually and automatically at every stage of development. As a rule, it should be a separate department dedicated to quality assurance.

The testing/quality assurance stage includes requirements, compatibility, interface, security, and so on.

Besides checking the app or web project for bugs, QA engineers also make sure the UX of the app is up to par, and  users will understand how it works. 

Step 6. Publishing & Maintenance

Finally, your app is ready and it's time for it to say, "Hello world!" You can submit the app to app stores by yourself or ask your app development company to assist you.

Also, the work on an app doesn't end even after its release. Every app needs updates and customer support. Note, that post-release maintenance isn't included in the initial cost of mobile app estimates.

Development Price Factors

Generally, several main factors influence mobile app development cost estimate.

Labor Costs - important mobile app development estimation factors

The size of your team influences the number of zeros in your final bill.

Essential team for a mobile app includes:

  • A project manager who communicates with the client and delivers requirements to the developers.
  • UI/UX designer, a person on which depends on the app structure and visual appearance.
  • Mobile developer. To develop the app, you will need one developer per platform (iOS or Android).
  • Quality Assurance (QA) engineer monitors every phase of the software development process. QA managers make sure that new products are bug-free.
  • Back-end developer creates the app back-end infrastructure and API integrations.

What else?

Number of Platforms and Devices

The main factor that drives the final estimate app cost is the complexity of your project.

  • Apple iOS is a better choice when you intend to reach more solvent users. An iOS app should support the latest and previous versions of iPhone and iOS versions as well.
  • The Android platform has a broader penetration among middle-income users. The world of Android devices is much more manifold.
  • A hybrid app will help you to reach as many users as possible since it works on both iOS and Android. The more devices you choose, the more time the team needs to adapt the app for various screen sizes.

According to our experience, Android development takes 20% longer than iOS development. Why? Because Android powers a wide range of different devices with different screen dimensions. At the same time, iOS powers only Apple devices and follows the same build for all apps.

App features estimation

There are a lot of different features you can add to your app. Their number and type affect the technical complexity of the project.

The most common are:

  • Third-party integrations. Third-party libraries, frameworks, and services make the app perform faster. Besides, to use a ready-made solution is cheaper than developing a custom solution.
  • In-app purchases let you sell items from the app. In-app purchases usually add technical complexity to a project.
  • Admin panel development. This tool makes in-app operations easier. You can manage users and content, view analytics, statistics, and more. Also, in the case of having a content-driven website, the admin panel is usually the place where you add content.
  • Custom designs. The app design matters as much as the functionality of the app, and sometimes even more. But you should note that a customized user interface comes at a cost.

What are global mobile developers rates?

Consider that you can receive an excellent result even from low-priced developers and that a high developer hourly rate does not guarantee a high-quality outcome.

Developer location is one of the essential factors that influence pricing.

For example:

  • Developers from Canada and the US charge from $50 to $250 per hour
  • Australian mobile app developers hourly rates vary from $50 to $150
  • UK-based and Western European agencies offer their services from $35 to $170 per hour
  • Eastern European mobile developers charge from $30 to $150 per hour

Average mobile developer rate

With this in mind, let us continue.

Basic needs of every app

The estimated cost of launching an app depends on the number of hours the project will take. In other words, the more functions you need, the more time the development stage will take.

Let us give you an example.

Below, we have divided applications into three categories:

Simple apps

Simple apps include essential functions without third-party API integration and back-end development. Apps with basic functionality may usually consist of:

  • Standard UI components
  • Social login
  • Push notifications
  • Personal profile
  • Feed list
  • Map markers

The estimated cost of a simple mobile app varies from $10,000 to 25,000 according to the APP Solutions rates.

Our example is RecruitPitch app, a free pre-interview tool for recruiters. With this app, HR managers set and check tasks for candidates using audio.

Recruiting Pitch app

Medium complexity apps

Apps in this category include the integration of a third-party solution. For instance, for providing an app with payment features or real-time chats. Medium complexity apps may consist of:

  • Customized UI features
  • Integration with APIs
  • Simple hosting server

According to the APP Solutions rates, this would be estimated from $35K to $50K.

One example is All Square, a social media platform for golfers. To learn more, read the case study. 

All Square

Complex apps

Complex applications include advanced functionality such as:

  • Audio/video streaming
  • Online chats
  • Real-time data synchronization
  • Custom design and animation
  • Third-party services integration
  • In-app purchases
  • Complex back-end

and as many more features as you wish.

The estimated average cost of app development of complex applications starts at $60,000.

An example is our project Spotnews, an advanced streaming platform integrated with Spotify API. See the full case study on the link.

Spotnews app

The APP Solutions Rates and Costs

As already explained, many factors can drive the quotes of a potential project. To cut to the chase, to estimate the expense for your app, you should understand the following.

The project complexity influences the size of the development team. The team's composition has a direct impact on the time required to develop the project, the number of spent hours forms the final cost.

At the APP Solutions, we provide clients with a transparent and clear process of cost estimation. We also have developed an App Development Cost Calculator, which you can use before ordering app development services. 

We offer the best price-quality ratio. Сheck out our rates and portfolio to compare.

Specialist Hourly Rate (USD)
UI/UX Designer $25+/hour
Frontend Developer $35+/hour
Backend (PHP) Developer $30+/hour
Android Developer $35+/hour
iOS Developer $37+/hour
QA Engineer $20+/hour
Project Manager / Business Analyst $25+/hour
DevOps Engineer $30+/hour

How to reduce the app's cost?

The creation of an MVP or minimum viable product is a way how to save you money and time in the initial stages of your project. It is a version of your future product with initial functionality and fewer features. MVP helps make the process faster and identify possible problems. Also, MVP allows you to prove your theories or change some of the app's functions (even product strategy.)

Below is an example of an MVP Agile model:

Agile mvp model

Estimation process: Common pitfalls to be aware of

Below you can find the most common pitfalls that may result in an inaccurate app estimation and increase in app development costs.

Uncertainty and changes. While small changes might be acceptable, significant changes increase the estimation cost, because to make certain changes developers need to rewrite a large piece of code.

Forgotten features. During the app requirements clarification, some must-have features might have been overlooked. These include the "Contact us" button, FAQ section, and other features that you consider distinct. However, if you forgot to add these to the technical documentation, the developers didn't estimate them. Therefore, be aware of your required features when creating the app documentation and requirements.

Lack of information. We, as well as most app development companies, write an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) with our clients. However, in some cases, clients give very little information about the proposed project, which makes it impossible to estimate. To avoid such a situation with your app development team, provide them with as many details on the app as possible. 

In a Nutshell

Nowadays, app development mobile app expenses may vary from $1,000 to $100,000. The cost of app development depends on the app's complexity, number of integrations, team location, and the number of platforms.

To receive a precise estimation, you need to tell your development team about all of the proposed app's functions and business goals. Only then can the team provide you with precise app development costs.

We hope that this article has given a clear idea of how to estimate mobile app development for your future app.

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